November 20, 2015
We were at the Northern Jaguar Reserve again this month in the company of new friends and donors who are helping us with jaguar conservation. On this trip, we were able to spend more time with the donors, who were a great group of people – Doug, Scott, Harriet, Darry, Mike, and NJP’s volunteer Treven. We were able to get to know each of them a little, and they were able to learn a little about what we do on the reserve and the Viviendo con Felinos ranches.
We began our trip at Bábaco where our U.S. friends accompanied us to check the motion-triggered cameras at the site known as La Cienega. It is one of the most interesting and important sites because it has had many jaguar sightings. We walked for around 30 minutes to reach the camera site, but unfortunately we were not lucky and there were no jaguar photographs here this month. We returned to the vehicles, drove to another monitoring point, and saw two white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). One of them ran away when it saw us, and the other stayed quietly for a moment. When we got back to camp, we met up with Turtle and Randy who had prepared lunch for us.
After visiting Bábaco, we went to Babisal, where we walked along the arroyo that has the same name. Usually our walk ends in a deep canyon where we come to a large pool and waterfall. Even though it is possible to scramble over rocks to continue, we prefer not to – especially with a large group – because of the potential danger of falling on the climb up that waterfall. Two of the donors, Doug and Scott, went with us to check cameras up the hill at Mesa del Baile later that day. We saw a pair of military macaws (Ara militaris) flying high above. Although it is possible to find these birds on the reserve, it does not happen often. Another bird we were able to catch a glimpse of was the elegant trogon (Trogon elegans). This is a very beautiful bird that we enjoy seeing on the reserve. We also saw a gray hawk (Buteo nitidus) flying among the oak trees. Our friends were good at hiking in the mountains. They were able to handle the hikes without being very tired, at least that is what we noticed.
On the last day with the donors, they went with us to check cameras along the Arroyo Dubaral, a site where we usually get good photos of jaguars and other felines. After checking those cameras, our friends went to visit the Río Aros. Meanwhile, Saúl and I continued checking cameras before joining them on the river for a swim. We spent a little more time together as a group, and then Saúl and I left for Los Pavos to continue our camera work (see photo of the road conditions we encountered, at right). During the two nights we spent at Los Pavos, we had strong rain with hail. This was good because we have not had much rain this year, and we are preparing for water shortages during the dry season.
At the Viviendo con Felinos ranches surrounding the reserve, there was not much human activity. We found Don René, the owner of Las Sabanillas, who accompanied us to check the cameras on his ranch. We had to clear a path with our machetes to reach the camera sites. We all noticed that the trees (Acacia cochliacantha) that died back during the 2011 frost are recuperating with new buds and branches.
As he usually does, the owner of El Saucito, Uriel, lent us his horse. It was not possible to borrow two horses, so we decided that Saúl would go to check El Saucito’s cameras. I decided to check cameras at La Mula, and Uriel kindly came with me.
Until next time,
Javier Valenzuela Amarillas has worked on the Northern Jaguar Reserve and Viviendo con Felinos ranches since 2012. As a jaguar guardian, he helps maintain an extensive network of motion-triggered cameras, inventory the ecological health of the land and water, and work with ranchers to support local wildlife.